Snow, Melt, More Snow, and Chickens

We have had a few days now without any falling snow and with warmer temps that have started some major melting.  We got about 36 inches of snow before it stopped falling.  And we had very cold temps, with wind chills as low as -4F.  Now, with the melting around a farm we have a lot of…mud…and puddles…and icky mess.  Which is then freezing to ice at night.  But the moisture is such a blessing that I am trying to ignore the mess!  And now it is snowing again.  tomorrow should be more melting, and then Monday more snow.  Sigh.  This is spring in the Rockies.  I am very hopeful though because they are saying it should be warming up to the 50s-60s at the end of next week.  Hopefully we will be able to get back to garden and chicken pen construction next weekend!

I’d like to give you an update on the chicken happenings around here, because there has been quite a bit, despite the snow.

The pullets and cockerel are 12 weeks old now.  They are doing fine.  We sold some back at 10 weeks and so we now have a total of 19 pullets, plus the cockerel.  Last weekend we did our 12-week ratings and weigh in for the breeding program.  We are learning more and more about selection as we watch them grow and change and keep track of their ratings.  It is very enjoyable!

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The scaly leg mites seem to be gone now.  All three chickens had the nasty scales fall off and new, tight scales grow under them.  Because we know that these types of pests can be hard to completely rid the area of, and because we haven’t had a warm enough day to completely empty the coop and treat it, we are continuing to put the vaseline with tea tree oil on their legs every 3-5 days and we are putting cooking oil with tea tree oil on the roosts every few days.  We are hoping to have a warm day soon (winter can’t hold on forever right?) so that we can completely empty the coop and treat the interior and re-bed it.

We have had an interesting turn of events with our small coop/pen that houses the two adult hens and the adult rooster.  Because we culled the other hens down to two in preparation for mixing the two flocks, that meant the roo was left with just two hens, one of whom wasn’t laying much (we kept her for a broody).  Then, that flock of 3 got the scaly leg mites and we didn’t want to integrate the groups until we were sure it was gone.  So the three of them have been alone for about 5 weeks now.  In that time the roo has ruined the one hen’s back because of his constant attention to her since there aren’t other hens to give his attention to.  We don’t want it to get worse, but I am nervous about trying a saddle or something on her because I am afraid she might get tangled in it or something.  I’ve never been big on putting “clothing” on livestock because of the risk they impose.  Maybe someone reading this has used chicken saddles and can put my mind at ease and let me know which ones work best and such.

Since we still aren’t feeling confidant about integrating the two flocks yet because of the inability to treat the small coop for leg mites because of the weather, we decided something must be done to protect the hen until we can put the two flocks together and he can have access to more hens.  So we decided to split him off from the rest and put him in his own temporary housing in the barn.

My husband built what will turn out to be a multi-purpose pen that can be used in the future (after we put smaller wire on it) for brooding, separating off a buck if we need more cage space for weanlings in the rabbitry, housing a barn cat with kittens, quarantining any of the smaller animals…any number of things.  But for now it will be rooster housing.

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We put him in there today and he seems to be doing just fine.  It isn’t ideal since he can’t get outside, but it works for now and it is just temporary.  Hopefully the weather will warm and we will be integrating the flocks very soon!

This multi-purpose cage is located right next to the cow manger, and it was cute to see the cows checking out the rooster.  First Charlie was trying to figure out what his new neighbor was.

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Then Charlotte wanted to get in on it too and had her sniff with Charlie watching from the sidelines.

103_0055Then my husband opened one of the feed bins and Charlotte’s attention was quickly drawn elsewhere hoping for a treat, but Charlie still wasn’t sure about that thing next door.

103_0057But that didn’t last long, Charlie was hoping for a treat too. 103_0058

Because of the snow we have been focusing our attention on indoor projects, so the big coop is getting an interior make-over.  If you recall, the pullets moved up there when they were still quite small for a temporary place for them to fit.  So all we did was provide food, water, a few short roosts, and a heat lamp.  Here is a picture back in early march of that coop:

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With the girls maturing it is time now to upgrade the coop to a real chicken coop, not a transition from brooder to coop.  We have taken out what was there and put in one long roost, enough space for all the birds well into adulthood.  We have also switched them to a wall trough feeder, so that when they are bigger and we are not free feeding them we can easily pour out the food.  As well as the purpose of clearing up more space in the coop by putting the feeder nicely on the wall.

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Wall feed trough

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This is the same corner of the coop from the pictures from a couple of months ago, where there used to be 3 corner roosts and the feeder and such.

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The new roost goes all the way across the length of the coop and has a center support.

Next, we are working on the nest boxes for this coop.  We are going to want to trap nest for the breeding program, so we want to build these nests as trap nest boxes.  I will do a whole post on how we are building and installing our trap nest boxes since there are a lot of different ways to do it.

The breeding program plans are finally taking a more specific shape.  We have made many decisions about how we are going to be managing it and what is going to happen.  I am working on some posts to explain how we are going to be doing it and will post them in the near future.

So that is the update from the snowy Rocky Mountains!

One thought on “Snow, Melt, More Snow, and Chickens

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